Ad ban plan

Talks due on ‘fresh look’ at alcohol promotions

Humza Yousaf promoting food and drink at this week’s Showcasing Scotland event (pic: Terry Murden)

Business groups are preparing for a new round of talks on government plans to control alcohol promotion.

Holyrood policymakers have called business and public health officials to meetings starting within weeks to discuss revised restrictions aimed as tackling alcohol abuse.

The initial proposals were roundly condemned, not least because of the potential damage to Scotland’s drinks industry, including manufacturers and retailers.

Restricting promotions also poses a threat to vital sponsorship money that makes many sports and arts groups and events viable.

A government spokesperson said First Minister Humza Yousaf called for the initial plans to go “back to the drawing board” while also “underlining that he wholeheartedly supports the aims of the earlier consultation”.

The spokesperson said Mr Yousaf is “keen to take a fresh look at balancing those aims with careful consideration of the impact restrictions may have on business”.

Sport relies heavily on sponsorship from drinks firms

On Wednesday Mr Yousaf delivered an opening address to the Showcasing Scotland food and drink event in Edinburgh where 150 producers promoted their products to about 100 buyers from 22 countries.

Speaking about the latest talks, Colin Borland, director of Devolved Nations at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the proposals could impact smaller enterprises ranging from alcohol production to retail.

“No-one wants to see the irresponsible promotion of products like alcohol to vulnerable groups,” he said.

“But, as with all new business regulations, any forthcoming plans need to be designed from the practical perspective of the small and micro businesses who make up the vast majority of enterprises in Scotland and who will be expected to implement them.

“And this cost comes at a time when traders have little or non-existent margins, are battling a cost of doing business crisis and have long since bade farewell to any cash reserves.

“We also need to think beyond retail. What would moves to, say, ban beermats, drip-trays and anything else bearing a drink’s logo do for all the small firms who produce and distribute this promotional material?”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, deputy head of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said that “Scottish retailers take their duty to sell alcoholic products responsibly seriously.

“However, last year’s Scottish Government consultation provided no tangible evidence that all the mooted measures would be proportionate public health interventions.”

Mr MacDonald Russell said. “We therefore welcomed the government’s acknowledgement that more focused, proportionate, and evidence-based measures would be consulted upon in 2024.”

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